What is the REFI-QDA Standard: Experimenting With the Transfer of Analyzed Research Projects Between QDA Software


  • Jeanine Evers Evers Research & Training
  • Mauro Ugo Caprioli UCLouvain
  • Stefan Nöst Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) Stuttgart
  • Gregor Wiedemann Universitat Hamburg




qualitative data analysis, QDAS, CAQDAS, ATLAS.ti, iLCM, NVivo, Transana, Quirkos, REFI-QDA project, REFI-QDA standard, REFI-QDA codebook, interoperability, use cases REFI-QDA


The open REFI-QDA standard allows for the exchange of entire projects from one QDA software to another, on condition that software vendors have built the standard into their software. To reveal the new opportunities emerging from overcoming QDA software lock-in, we describe an experiment with the standard in four separate research projects done by several researchers during a week at the Lorentz Centre (The Netherlands) in August 2019. Each researcher exchanged some processed research data between two qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) packages. We start by envisaging the development of the REFI-QDA standard, followed by the context of each research project, the type(s) of data in it, the reasons for wanting to do the transfer to another program and the lessons learnt in doing so. We conclude with the benefits of the REFI-QDA standard and the issues to be taken into account when considering a transfer between QDAS.


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Author Biographies

Jeanine Evers, Evers Research & Training

Jeanine EVERS is director of Evers Research & training, board member of KWALON and initiator and former chair (2016-2019) of REFI. She trains PhD students and researchers in qualitative methods and QDAS and recently did evaluative research in the fields of public administration and education.

Mauro Ugo Caprioli, UCLouvain

Mauro Ugo CAPRIOLI is currently working as a PhD-student. His research is concerned with how European citizens perceive, experience, and define their relationship with politics in the current age of neo-liberalism, globalization, and populism. His main research interests are political sociology, qualitative methods and methodologies, citizens' perceptions of politics, and populism.

Stefan Nöst, Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) Stuttgart

Stefan NÖST is a professor for health and nursing sciences at the DHBW Stuttgart, Germany. He is also researcher at the department for General Medicine and Health Services Research, University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany. His research fields are health services for vulnerable groups and implementation research on health and nursing interventions.

Gregor Wiedemann, Universitat Hamburg

Gregor WIEDEMANN is a post-doctoral researcher at the computer science department of the Universität Hamburg, Germany. He works in the field of natural language processing and is especially interested in text mining applications for the social sciences.




How to Cite

Evers, J., Caprioli, M. U., Nöst, S., & Wiedemann, G. (2020). What is the REFI-QDA Standard: Experimenting With the Transfer of Analyzed Research Projects Between QDA Software. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-21.2.3439